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Message #1743 of 4034  *NEW*
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Carol  
First Kayak Descent of Kern Headwaters by a Woman
8/2/05, 9:39am
graphic
Paddlers return from expedition marking
first kayak descent of Kern Headwaters by a woman

By Ann Beman

July 29, 2005

Five world-class whitewater kayakers, including 2004 Olympic silver medalist Rebecca Giddens and her 1996 Olympian husband Eric, completed today a 10-day expedition from the headwaters of the Kern River to their Kernville home. The endeavor marks the first kayak descent of the Kern’s headwaters by a woman.

Accompanied by three support backpackers, the paddlers began their 115-mile journey on July 19 near Independence, Calif., at the trailhead for 12,000-foot-high Shepherd Pass, the most difficult in the Sierra.

The Giddenses -- along with former world champion freestyle boater Eric Southwick­ -- expedition paddler and adventure guide Sam Drevo -- all-around paddler Corby Leith -- Dr. Lindsey Bennett (Rebecca Giddens’s sister) -- documentary filmmaker Andy Stone -- and writer Ann Beman, loaded kayaks, gear, and food onto pack animals, whom they met on Day 3 of the trip at Junction Meadow.

“Trying to hang a slalom course, you don’t have to get mules for that,” said Eric Giddens. “We found Cottonwood Pack Station and they’ve been great.”

In the first two days, the group hiked up 5,500 feet, only to meet a 1,500-foot scree and snow wall that they ascended with loaded backpacks.

“Thank God we didn’t have to do this with kayaks,” said Drevo more than once during the climb. “I think if I’d had to carry my boat up over that, I’d have been the shuttle bunny instead,” added Southwick.

Once retrieved and loaded with their camping gear and food, the kayakers’ plastic creek boats weighed 100 pounds or more.

The expedition, planned to the day, the mile, and the calorie by the Giddenses, was also their brainchild, conceived soon after the Olympics in Athens, Greece. “We were looking for our next big adventure, and had been training on the Kern, so we thought, ‘Hey, we should pay our respects and see where this thing starts’,” explained Eric.

Over the course of the 10 days, the tight-knit group encountered gorgeous waterfalls, sweet-smelling meadows, “sick” whitewater, a handful of unrunnable rapids, bald eagles, thunderstorms, copulating rattle snakes, blisters, misplaced trails, mosquitoes, intrepid trout, swollen knees, bloody toes, curious marmots, bear scat, bear tracks, lost hiking boots, hot springs, memories for a lifetime, and a deep appreciation of the Kern watershed and the Southern Sierra.

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Message #1744 of 4034  *NEW*
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Carol  
Re: First Kayak Descent of Kern Headwaters by a Woman
8/2/05, 10:30am (Last Edited: 8/2/05, 10:32am)
graphic
Here's an awesome trip report of three guys doing the Kern Headwaters run with their kayak... What a great pic! lol

http://home.flash.net/~cfoster2/boating/tables/hw_k
ern_dat.html

"Headwaters Run - Junction Meadow to Confluence of the Little Kern.

When's the last time you carried your boat over a 13,777 ft. pass, hiked 21 miles, and climbed the highest peak in the continental U.S. on the way to a put-in? What? You don't wander that far from your hot tub?

Rarely done, this classic 37 mile, class V-VI, wilderness run starts at 8000 ft. in the High Sierra, and ends at the put-in for the Forks run at 4660 ft!"

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The mountains are calling and I must go. ~ John Muir ~ www.tarol.com
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Message #1745 of 4034  *NEW*
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Carol  
Re: First Kayak Descent of Kern Headwaters by a Woman
8/2/05, 10:35am
graphic
Another good trip report... with lots of great pics!

http://www.stanford.edu/~jdlevin/Trips/Kern/Kern_He
adwaters.htm

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The mountains are calling and I must go. ~ John Muir ~ www.tarol.com
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Message #1746 of 4034  *NEW*
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Carol  
Re: First Kayak Descent of Kern Headwaters by a Woman
8/2/05, 2:42pm (Last Edited: 8/2/05, 2:43pm)
graphic
Ewker, a fellow backpacker, got pictures of the kayaks being packed in... You don't see this very often on the trail, lol!

http://community.webshots.com/photo/405651544/40571
2821zDRRKZ

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The mountains are calling and I must go. ~ John Muir ~ www.tarol.com
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Message #1751 of 4034  *NEW*
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Larry Levy  
Re: First Kayak Descent of Kern Headwaters by a Woman
8/2/05, 6:48pm
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How cow! I can't imagine hauling a kayak up those trails.

And to think how much I bi*ched hauling a 40 pound pack up there

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" I lift up mine eyes to the hills, whence cometh my help.", Psalm 121
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Message #1752 of 4034  *NEW*
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Robert Jones  
Re: First Kayak Descent of Kern Headwaters by a Woman
8/2/05, 8:16pm
I enjoyed that thanks for the post. We had a trip recently that ended with a mile or better portage of kayaks.

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